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What Are Hyperinflated Lungs?

September 20, 2023
what are hyperinflated lungs? what are hyperinflated lungs?

Hyperinflated lungs occur when air gets trapped in the lungs. A person with hyperinflated lungs cannot exhale air normally. As a result of air being trapped inside the lungs, the lungs expand in size, making it difficult to breathe out. Hyperinflated lungs mean you do not get enough fresh air which is needed for healthy respiration.  This condition can be caused by a number of things, including blockages in the air passage or blockages in the air sacs that are less elastic and make it difficult for air to leave the lungs. 

Symptoms Of Hyperinflated Lungs  

Any respiratory illness will have an impact on your lungs and your breathing. If you have overinflated lungs you may experience: 

  • Shortness of breath or exerted breathing 
  • Fatigue
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Frequent colds or other respiratory infections 
  • Difficulty inhaling
  • Low energy levels 

What Causes Hyperinflated Lungs?

Hyperinflated lungs are the byproduct of other respiratory illnesses.  The damage to the lungs from these diseases forces the lungs to work harder, often requiring them to overinflate to draw in fresh air. Hyperinflated lungs can be caused by: 

  • COPD: This is the most common cause, mainly due to smoking. COPD is also made up of the other respiratory illnesses listed below. 
  • Emphysema: causes damage to the air sacs in the lungs, often causing them to enlarge as they struggle to draw in air.
  • Chronic bronchitis: causes the airways to become inflamed, minimizing the air flow to the lungs, which requires the lungs to work harder to inhale fresh air.
  • Chronic Obstructive Asthma: causes the airways to become inflamed and clogged with mucus, requiring the lungs to require more air through respiration.  

Hyperinflated Lungs Treatment

Hyperinflated lungs can be treated. A diagnosis usually involves a physical exam imaging tests and pulmonary function tests to detect lung damage. Treatments include:

  • Pulmonary Rehab: Rehabilitation uses breathing techniques and exercises to help manage fatigue, anxiety, and other symptoms associated with hyperinflated lungs.  This type of treatment is led by a medical professional and it can even assist in nutrition and lifestyle changes. 
  • Medications: Medications will help with easier breathing as they can reduce inflammation. Medicine like a long-acting bronchodilator can also be beneficial for an easier time breathing.
  • Oxygen Therapy: Oxygen therapy is highly beneficial for patients with hyperinflated lungs. That's because it reduces the stress on the lungs, reducing their overall workload. Oxygen therapy provides supplemental oxygen. The supplemental oxygen is delivered via an oxygen concentrator and nasal cannula to get the proper amount of air into the lungs.
  • Surgery: For some serious cases, surgery may be necessary to remove damaged lung tissue, which allows healthier lung tissue to function with less effort and reduces stressed breathing for the patient. Surgery typically is the last method a doctor may suggest if other treatment options do not help. 


While hyperinflated lungs can be an additional challenge for those managing a respiratory illness, there are treatments. Get informed about hyperinflated lungs. Speak to your doctor about the best treatment as it will help you to breathe easier. If oxygen therapy is best for you, our team would be happy to help pick out the best products that suit your needs. Give us a call at 888-941-1688 today!

Chris Vasta

Chris Vasta is the president of The CPAP Shop and an expert in sleep and respiratory therapy. He often provides insights on product design and functionality on various manufacturers’ prototypes and is frequently tapped to provide reviews on new releases.